Goodman showcasing strength at Double-A

April 16th, 2023

SEATTLE -- Double-A Hartford’s Hunter Goodman, the Rockies’ No. 15 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is hitting home runs like last year never ended.

After hitting 36 total home runs last year at three levels, Goodman, 23, has started this year with four, plus four doubles among 10 hits in his first seven games.

Goodman was primarily listed as a catcher when drafted out of the University of Memphis in 2021. But, much like during his college days, Goodman is using versatility to stay on the field. His defensive appearances so far have been split between first base and the outfield, and he serves as designated hitter when not in the field. Goodman was scheduled for his first start behind the plate Sunday at Double-A Reading.

“One thing that I really love is he’s been really on time for a fastball,” Hartford manager Chris Denorfia said. “The result of that is even when they’re trying to pitch him soft, his foot is down, and he’s catching those breaking balls out front and driving them.

“He’s hitting nothing but extra-base hits right now. So they’re already starting to pitch around him and he’s doing a good job of taking his walks [.500 on-base percentage to go with a .357 average].”

Here’s a look around the Rockies’ Minor League system:

Triple-A Albuquerque:
In an encouraging development for the big club, righty Peter Lambert threw three scoreless innings with two strikeouts, only allowing one hit and a walk Friday night against El Paso. Lambert has been on the comeback trail since undergoing Tommy John right elbow surgery in 2020. … Utility man Coco Montes has followed up on his attention-grabbing Spring Training (.302/.367/.512) with four homers and six doubles in his first 14 games. … Righty Gavin Hollowell (Rockies No. 23), currently on the seven-day injured list with right forearm tightness, has reported to the team’s complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., to pitch in extended spring training games. … Center fielder Brenton Doyle (Rockies No. 16) hasn’t played since crashing into a wall and bruising his right knee on April 7, but player development director Chris Forbes said he is expected to return this week.

Double-A Hartford:
Zac Veen (MLB Pipeline No. 24, Rockies No. 2), notoriously aggressive in Major League camp, began the year with a healthy .375 OBP in seven games. He succeeded on his first five steal attempts, and on Friday launched his first homer of the season -- an opposite-way shot to left off Reading righty Tyler Phillips. “It was a two-strike swing where he just let the ball get deep -- it was an elevated pitch and he just put a barrel on it,” Denorfia said. “He's been very coachable. He really wants to get better and they keep progressing.”

Trying to pitch their way onto the big-league radar are righty Nick Kuzia, who has thrown three hitless innings and has one save, and lefty Austin Kitchen, who has six strikeouts in as many innings. … First baseman Grant Lavigne, who saw time in Major League camp and was the 42nd overall pick in 2018, fashioned a 1.035 OPS in his first seven games.

High-A Spokane:
Righty No. 6 prospect Gabriel Hughes’ first start went five spotless innings. ... Righty No. 9 prospect Jaden Hill’s first start did not go as well. He yielded four hits, including two home runs, in one inning against Eugene. “The stuff he had in the pregame bullpen was outstanding,” Spokane pitching coach Ryan Kibler said. “The game number on the fastball was absolutely electric. He just didn’t have anything else, and you have to give the opposing offense a little credit. But he was a one-pitch pitcher that night, which is rare for him.” … 2022 first-rounder and Rockies' No. 8 Sterlin Thompson’s first week has included a home run and three doubles, plus a couple of steals.

Single-A Fresno:
Righty Connor Staine, the Rockies’ No. 28 prospect and their fifth-round pick in 2022, threw five scoreless innings, with four strikeouts against three hits and no walks in a 5-0 victory over Stockton on Saturday. Staine’s fastball ranged 92-96 mph, and he effectively mixed offspeed deliveries.